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Thread Number: 51147
Deep well stove element. How was it used?
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Post# 735108   2/14/2014 at 00:03 by Vacosaurus (Cleveland Ohio)        

I have a 40 inch electric stove I think it's a 1949 General electric. It has what I think is referred to as a deep well cooker for a back element. You can pick up the rear left element and you can lower it into a well.I would imagine so you could put a pot down into it to make it more level with the top of the stove. How would this feature be properly used? How common was this as a feature on a range? Was there a special pot that fit the stove specifically or did you use any pot that would fit in there? Thanks Bill,




Post# 735111 , Reply# 1   2/14/2014 at 00:31 by rp2813 (SF Bay Area)        

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The stove originally came with a pot specifically designed for deep well use. 

 

Someone here may be able to post a picture of one, in case you're interested in hunting one down.

 

A picture of your stove to confirm its age would help nail down the correct deep well pot for it.

 

The average pot won't work in the deep well, since they have handles attached to the sides.  All deep well pots have a lip around the top edge with handles incorporated so the pot can be fully sunken into the well and make contact with the element.

 

You're lucky to have the option to use the deep well element as a regular surface burner.  My mom's '49 Westinghouse had a stationary deep well element.  No versatility at all.

 


Post# 735120 , Reply# 2   2/14/2014 at 01:43 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
My Norge

Has a dual duty unit, its great for boiling pasta or slow cooking a roast, I think what makes the deep well cooker handy is, 1 its safer, you cant accidentaly tip over the pot, and 2 you can see into it better, especially if you are shorter, In the mid 50s GE and Hotpoint made a deep fryer immersion unit that really worked well, it went down into the pot which of course was about 1/2 full of oil, it worked just like a commercial deep fryer.An outlet on the back splash of the range supplied the power.

Post# 735123 , Reply# 3   2/14/2014 at 01:49 by vintagekitchen (columbia ky)        
a money saving pain in the a**

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They were meant to be economical, often called a thrift cooker, the well had heavily insulated sides, and the pot had a heavily insulated lid. This meant you could cook one pot meals using less current, and heating the house less ( very important in pre air conditioner days).

I used to have a 1939 GE with a deep well and a deep well cookbook, that stated an entire meal for 4 could be cooked I the average deep well pot, including meat vegetables and dessert. It was full of such recipes, telling one when to put in the meat, then how much later to add each vegetable, and whether the vegetables should be loose or in bundle of aluminum foil, and last when to add a small pan of some sort of dessert, which made for a tightly packed deep well and no second helpings.

Deep wells were economical, and were much cooler to use in pre air conditioned homes, being so well insulated they could be used as a small oven in the summer.

Unfortunately the simply were not as versatile as a surface level burner. It was frustrating when cooking a regular meal to need that 4th burner, for a small pan or a large frying pan, but it is only available for use with a large pot.

Manufacturers tried offering triangular insert pans with allowed 3 vegetable to cook at once seperately, half moon inserts for 2 vegetables, a pressure cooker variant, and even as you see, the burner on some could be raised for use as a surface burner.

However they finally fell out of fashion, being more of a hindrance than a help, and eliminating the possibility of a second 8 inch burner, as well as not being able to be used as a surface unit on most models. Ugh, you should try cleaning one if something has the misfortune to boil over into the well, yuck. And difficult! I don't miss mine.


Post# 735126 , Reply# 4   2/14/2014 at 02:16 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
The Norge ..

Has a 8 inch unit!!

Post# 735127 , Reply# 5   2/14/2014 at 02:17 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Here is how..

You lower it.

Post# 735128 , Reply# 6   2/14/2014 at 02:18 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Low

Position..

Post# 735129 , Reply# 7   2/14/2014 at 02:20 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
And with..

The pot in place, I also have a Presto deep well pressure cooker, it came with a Kelvinator, but it fits the Norge fine.

Post# 735130 , Reply# 8   2/14/2014 at 02:40 by vintagekitchen (columbia ky)        
wow

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Hans, you never fail to amaze me and show us something previously unseen. I truly didn't realize any company offered a deep well with an 8 inch burner, no less an 8 inch burner that could double as a surface unit.

I still didn't find the deep well itself very useful, except as a version of built in crockpot or a built in stock pot, and boil overs were a pain to clean, but I have to admit that the ability to use it as an 8 inch surface unit would have made it much more acceptable to me.

Amazing that other manufacturers didn't jump on the bandwagon with a deep well like the Norge version.


Post# 735154 , Reply# 9   2/14/2014 at 06:33 by danemodsandy (The Bramford, Apt. 7-E)        
Bill:

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The pot for your stove was indeed special. It fit the well exactly, and had specially-contoured handles that made it easy (and safe!) to lift the pot from the well's burner. Here's a shot of the correct pot, on a GE Stratoliner from 1948; your range used the same part:

Post# 735155 , Reply# 10   2/14/2014 at 06:46 by danemodsandy (The Bramford, Apt. 7-E)        
And Here's....

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A shot of one of these pots sitting in the well of a 1948 GE Airliner. As you can see, it sits fairly flush with the cooktop, not causing any interference with the use of other burners. These pots are medium-weight aluminum, with a Bakelite handle for the lid:

Post# 735158 , Reply# 11   2/14/2014 at 07:11 by danemodsandy (The Bramford, Apt. 7-E)        
Drawbacks:

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Deep-well cookers weren't an unalloyed joy.

First, the burners under them were usually the kind you have - open-coil nichrome elements that were of limited use when raised, and not exactly easy to clean, either.

Second, the cooker caught cooking grease from the other burners, meaning that spatters ended up on the lid and handles of the deep-well pot. This was a real tooth-grinder after a while; I remember it well from the 1948 Frigidaire we had for so many years when I was growing up.

Cleaning the cooktop after preparing a meal always involved some work involving the deep-well cooker or its burner, whether you used it or not.


Post# 735167 , Reply# 12   2/14/2014 at 08:27 by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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The stove we had in our house when I was growing up had the deep well on the left rear. It was a large burner and it worked just as Hans showed above. I'm not sure of the make of the stove. It was a 40" model with the 4 burners on the left. Below it was a pull out warming drawer and below that a pots/pans drawer. My mom used the warming drawer to store pots/pans - I never once saw it used as a warming drawer. The right side was just a flat surface with the oven below that and another pots/pans drawer below the oven. The oven door had a glass window. With all the pics of vintage stoves on this site, I've yet to come across one that was the same as what we had. I'm thinking that it was a Westinghouse but for some reason Marquette also sounds familiar. It had push buttons for the 4 surface units, clock, a round timer knob and a round knob for the oven temeperature. On the circumference of the oven switch there was another dial with 3 positions to select bake, broil or preheat.

Gary


Post# 735176 , Reply# 13   2/14/2014 at 08:53 by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

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I've had a couple of deep-well cookers on ranges but have never utilized them fully.  Tom kindly sent me the popcorn stirring arm for my Frigidaire range and I did use that several times with wonderful results.  The high heat and heavy pan, somewhat insulated by the well in the range made for fast popping and never scorched.

 

That's a great finger-loop on your Norge element, Hans, it would make raising and lowering easier.  


Post# 735181 , Reply# 14   2/14/2014 at 08:58 by Kenmore71 (Minneapolis, MN)        

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The early Frigidaires even had what they called the "Thriftomatic" control for the deep well cooker.  This control had the the "High" setting on an adjustable 30 minute timer, which, when it got to end of whatever time you set on it, turned the heat down to "low".  This allowed you to get everything up to cooking temperature and then it automatically turned down the heat.

 

Also, by the 1950s All of the Frigidaire deep well elements were 8", although they were usually  of a lower wattage than the front unit (1600 watts if memory serves me correctly).


Post# 735194 , Reply# 15   2/14/2014 at 09:11 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Frigidaire and high end Westinghouse ranges also used to offer an 8 inch raisable element in the deepwell after the early 50s when some deepwells still had open coil elements mounted in firebrick. Frigidaire sold the Mirro-Matic deepwell pressure cooker as an accessory. They had a 6 quart capacity, but were narrower than Mirro's top of the range models. GE ranges offered the EKCO-made pressure cooker for their deepwells which, pretty much to the end, used a 6 inch raisable Calrod element. On my 1954 Frigidaire, the deepwell element was 1700 watts while the front 8 inch element was 2100 watts so when I replaced the front elements with 208 volt elements, I put the 2100 in the rear position since I don't use the deep well cooker.

If you look at many deepwell pans, you will notice that with the exception of the modern Hotpoint, most had covers than enabled them to be used as a resting place for pans or plates and the like. Most had either knobs that were flat on top, like the Frigidaires or that were recessed into the cover, like the GE above and the Westinghouse pans. The cover knob on the Hotpoint had the soft green color in the top to match the green ceramic button in the middle of the medallion for the left rear surface unit. (Thank you, again, Robert, for giving me that pan more than 20 years ago.) On the underside of the cover was a bracket. The cover could be lowered into the well and, once at the bottom, could be twisted to lock onto the frame in the center of the element. The element coud then be raised to the surface position and set into place without touching the element or worry about damaging a manicure.

Just before WWII, Revere Ware introduced their own deepwell pan. It was shown as part of the line through the mid 50s. That is an item on my dream list that I have not yet found. In keeping with deep well pan design standards, it has the cover knob recessed also.

A feature introduced in the Frigidaire deepwell was a thermostat in the side wall of the well. When the pan was in place, it pressed against the side. It controlled the temperature when deep frying. The fat was heated on high until the round signal light came on. The heat was switched to medium high and the signal light indicated the cycling of one of the two wires in the Radiantube to maintain the temperature so that you could be sure that the fat was hot enough for the next batch of food. Frigidaire deep wells also had a baking rack that rested on the element supports. In the days before toaster ovens, three potatoes could be baked in it, as well as apples in the pudding pan or three baked custards. Frigidaire also sold a popcorn popping stirer that snapped into place under the cover since it is hard to shake a 40 inch range to stir the corn. All the cook had to do was turn the cover occasionally during popping by its nice Bakelite handle. It used 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 3/4 cup of corn to yield 6 quarts of popped corn.


Post# 735197 , Reply# 16   2/14/2014 at 09:15 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        
Thriftomatic switch

Jeff noted years ago that the way some people cook, all surface units should have a switch that only allowed them to use high heat for an automatically timed period.

Post# 735198 , Reply# 17   2/14/2014 at 09:19 by rp2813 (SF Bay Area)        

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The deep well element on the '49 Westinghouse was 8" in diameter but it was the open coil nichrome type and didn't put out the same level of BTUs as the "Corox" elements.

 

The Westy's deep well pot had a steamer plate that could be positioned at various levels.  I think this was an across-the-board design with all manufacturers.   The picture Hans posted in reply #7 shows the notches in the side of the pot that hold the steamer plate.

 

The lid on the Westy's pot was not heavily insulated.  It was aluminum, just like the rest of the pot.

 

I've been passing by a deep well pot at Salvation Army lately.  It has no lid or identifying marks, and has been knocking around the cookware aisle for weeks.


Post# 735213 , Reply# 18   2/14/2014 at 11:23 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

The plate was also used to put on top of the one kettle meal as a place to rest the pudding pan to cook the dessert. The instructions made a very strong point about keeping the foods actively steaming to prevent flavors from mingling. Back when people used glass baby bottles and before the formula was sterilized in the bottles, the plate was put in the bottom of the kettle when sterilizing the inverted bottles.

Post# 735215 , Reply# 19   2/14/2014 at 11:40 by gredmondson (San Francisco, CALIFORNIA)        

When I was growing up, my folks built a new house, and it had a 1959 Thermador built-in range top. There was a griddle and a deep well in the back left. The burner could be raised. We never used that deep well feature.

Post# 735219 , Reply# 20   2/14/2014 at 12:00 by PhilR (Montreal Canada)        

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Mark is right about Frigidaire deep wells, on my '59 Custom Imperial (last year for deep wells in Frigidaire ranges) the 8" burner had the same wattage as the rear 6" burner. And even if the the late-1950s Frigidaire deep well burners were controlled by an infinite switch, they kept the 3 wire design from earlier 5 heat burners. By 1959, all other burners that were used with an infinite switch had already switched to a 2 wire design.

 

Greg, can you send a picture of the popcorn stirrer? I have never seen that!


Post# 735239 , Reply# 21   2/14/2014 at 14:45 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Hotpoint..

Had a nice feature on there deep well, the lid to the pot had a hook thing on the bottom side, you set the lid down on the unit, turned it slightly, it engaged the unit allowing you to lower or raise it while hot, after 1955, Hotpoint put their supermatic thermostatic unit on the left rear, so the deep well was thermostatically controlled, an 8 inch high wattage unit and usable for the deep well, also it came with a square heavy aluminum frying pan meant to take the place of an electric frypan, in 57 you could get a 6 quart percolator.

Post# 735266 , Reply# 22   2/14/2014 at 19:27 by classiccaprice (Hampton, Virginia)        

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My 1950 Frigidare has one, though I had to replace mine with one out of a 1947 model. It works well, but I agree a regular burner would be more useful. There are some good recipes for them though. I really like the Thermiser recipe for custard.

Post# 735269 , Reply# 23   2/14/2014 at 19:34 by danemodsandy (The Bramford, Apt. 7-E)        
Will:

danemodsandy's profile picture
In case I haven't said so before, I really like your kitchen. I was in dozens like it when I was growing up - and haven't seen one like it in a long time.

Everything's terribly built-in and elegant now, but the character is gone.

P.S.: The cabinets in the house I grew up in were also knotty pine, but stained much darker. The hardware was exactly the same as yours.


Post# 735295 , Reply# 24   2/14/2014 at 21:30 by classiccaprice (Hampton, Virginia)        
Thanks Sandy!

classiccaprice's profile picture
One of these days, when I redo the 2007-era counter tops and floor that the flippers put in, I will have to give you all the 'tour' in pictures. Or if you are ever in this part of the country, you'll have to stop by and visit. :)

Post# 735301 , Reply# 25   2/14/2014 at 21:53 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I know what would look good on those counters!

Because I intend on having it on mine..real Linoleum, with chrome edging! LOVE the pine cabinets and the real refrigerator and stove, their just isnt any comparison once you use good stuff!!

Post# 735366 , Reply# 26   2/15/2014 at 04:00 by PhilR (Montreal Canada)        

philr's profile picture

When did manufacturers stopped to offer deep well cookers?

 

Here's the one on my 1959 Frigidaire, the last year from that brand, but how about other manufacturers?

 

20140215_043744


Post# 735367 , Reply# 27   2/15/2014 at 04:12 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I know..

You could still get one on a Hotpoint in 61, but after that I have no idea, I love mine, but its one of those deals you love or hate.

Post# 735403 , Reply# 28   2/15/2014 at 10:21 by cornutt (Huntsville, AL USA)        
That '59 Frigidaire is great!

Would love to see more pics of it.

Post# 735427 , Reply# 29   2/15/2014 at 12:25 by rp2813 (SF Bay Area)        

rp2813's profile picture

Whither the OP?


Post# 735459 , Reply# 30   2/15/2014 at 14:46 by Vacosaurus (Cleveland Ohio)        

Wow! 29 replies to my question already. Guess I ( Stirred the pot)with this one. Had this stove many years and was less than enthused that it was on this stove but after reading your responses now I think it's pretty cool. Yes Danemodsandy I think I will try and find the correct pot and lid. Thank's for posting the pictures of it. I will take some pictures of the range and serial number and post them to accuratly date the range and mabey some one here may have a correct pot and lid. Thank's Bill,

Post# 735479 , Reply# 31   2/15/2014 at 16:54 by danemodsandy (The Bramford, Apt. 7-E)        
Bill:

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There aren't any GE ones on eBay at the moment, but that's where I would focus.

A bit of research dug up the fact that Mirro made a lot of the units for various manufacturers.

Anyway, I'd search eBay for "deep well cooker" and do a "saved search" on it, so that you'll be notified as they come up on the site. Then I'd wait patiently for just the right unit at just the right price. It'll happen!


Post# 735533 , Reply# 32   2/15/2014 at 19:40 by vintagekitchen (columbia ky)        
possible pan for you..

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Somewhere around here I have one of the pressure cooker pans for a deep well. It was too short for my GE, so I never used it much in the deep well, but I did use it on the surface burners and it still seals and comes up to proper pressure.

If the dimensions are correct, I suppose you could use it as a regular pot also, just not twisting the lid into the locked position. Also it is much thicker than a regular deep well pot, so pinholes are less likely. They were the death of many a deep well pot.

I will look for it and post the dimensions for you.


Post# 735537 , Reply# 33   2/15/2014 at 20:06 by classiccaprice (Hampton, Virginia)        

classiccaprice's profile picture
Yes, be sure to check dimensions. My 1950 Frigidare and the 1947 model that I got parts out of had different size deep wells. The 1947 was thinner and taller than the 1950.




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